MS in Nursing: Leadership in Healthcare Systems Emphasis

Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems

Offered By: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

Develop Skills for Management and Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Systems

Grand Canyon University’s Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Systems strives to prepare nurses for leadership in nursing roles in today’s rapidly changing healthcare delivery systems. This program is an avenue for current nurses who want to position themselves for possible career advancement toward leadership and potentially make a greater impact on the field at the management level. 

To meet expectations at this advanced level, nursing students will have the opportunity to learn to synthesize elements of caring into the nurse-patient relationship — based on advocacy, as well as ethical, social, legal, political and historical perspectives. This program further addresses the importance of client empowerment with unconditional regard for all. 

The MSN degree with an emphasis in leadership in healthcare systems portion of this program focuses on:

  • Analyzing organizational behavior among individuals, teams and departments
  • Developing strategies for implementing changes, leading diverse teams and fostering collaboration
  • Applying financial management principles
  • Generating data-driven, cost-effective solutions
  • Leading in the improvement of care processes, outcomes and the patient experience
  • Modeling leadership behaviors that motivate and inspire others

Benefits of the MSN With Leadership in Nursing in Healthcare Systems Emphasis

The MSN program with an emphasis in leadership in healthcare systems’ curriculum consists of graduate nursing core and leadership courses, including leadership courses taken with Master of Science in Leadership (MSL) students. In your graduate nursing core courses, you are taught the knowledge, values and skills necessary for advanced generalist nursing practice in an evolving healthcare system. 

You can choose to enroll in an evening or online nursing leadership classes in this master's in nursing program at GCU. Pursuing your degree online may be ideal for you as a busy adult learner. You can look forward to helpful online learning resources, support from your professors and peers as well as the flexibility and convenience that online courses provide.

GCU’s MSN with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems meets leadership standards that align with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE).  

For more information on the accreditation of nursing programs and other university approvals, please visit our University Accreditation and Regulations page. 

Take Relevant Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Systems Courses

This master’s in nursing with a leadership in healthcare systems emphasis is designed to incorporate the advanced roles of a clinician, researcher, learner, educator, coach, leader, community advocate, manager of systems, collaborator and consultant through nursing leadership courses. Thus, you will be taught a wide range of skills and expansive knowledge that can prepare you to improve healthcare and patient outcomes from all aspects. Among the skill sets to adopt, clinical and organizational decision-making skills are required for a graduate-level nurse. These skills can be developed through critical thinking, evidence-based research and diagnostic reasoning.

The MSN in nursing leadership in healthcare systems emphasis coursework provides insight into how organizations function with a focus on financial and human resource management within healthcare. Leadership courses can teach master’s nursing students to meet the requirements of leaders in contemporary healthcare, which include skills in quality and performance improvement, effective communication and interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Courses include an evidence-based project, where students address a problem in their area of professional practice, propose a solution and design an evaluation. Students will also complete a practicum with the opportunity to apply what they learned to a contemporary, nursing leadership-related experience. This practicum encourages the application of deep nursing knowledge, along with advanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Topics can range from quality/performance improvement or mentorship/coaching to interdisciplinary relationships or staff development. 

Career Paths for MSN Graduates With Nursing Leadership Skills  

Master’s-prepared nurses may pursue the next step in their career by taking on roles in advanced registered nursing. Graduates may also choose to move right into the DNP program to position themselves for possible career advancement. 

MSN: Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Systems FAQs

If you’re looking to lead others, create positive change and further your nursing career into a leadership focus, our frequently asked questions can provide you with more insight into this path.

The on-campus or online master’s in nursing program with nursing leadership emphasis requires 36 total credits for completion. When taking your classes online, each course is eight weeks in length, with the exception of the practicum, which is 16-weeks in length and can be completed in your community.

As a nurse with a background in nursing leadership, you may have the opportunity to create change and lead others in the healthcare industry. If you are passionate about nursing, seek to help make important decisions and help others, a nursing leadership in healthcare systems emphasis may be the next best step for your education.

The healthcare field expects much faster than average job growth throughout the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for healthcare occupations to be much faster than average from 2022 to 2032, accounting for an estimated increase of about 1.8 million job openings in the field each year.1 

Salary expectations for graduates of this program vary depending on the specific job they end up in. For more information on salary expectations for specific job titles, you can refer to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Advanced nursing degree emphasis programs are designed to be challenging. They want to prepare you for practical scenarios by equipping you with new, useful knowledge and substantial hands-on experiences. With this comes the need for a significant commitment to your studies.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Healthcare Occupations, retrieved on Oct. 18, 2023.

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Total Credits: 36
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

36 credits
Degree Requirements:
36 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course examines nursing theory and the role of ethics for advanced registered nurses within the Christian worldview and through a leadership perspective focused on improving health care outcomes. Learners explore the moral/ethical responsibilities and legal and regulatory obligations of advanced registered nurses in health promotion and disease prevention. Learners also review evidence-based practice (EBP) literature and the research process with application to their program of study and learn to navigate scholarly EBP literature, resources, and guidelines.

Course Description

This course examines the role of leadership, organizational science, policy, and informatics in supporting safe, high-quality, cost-effective patient care within interprofessional, dynamic health care environments. Learners explore various organizational relationships within health care systems and prepare to participate in the design of cost-effective, innovative models of care delivery and practice change proposals. Professional leadership theories and how they shape the nurse leader in such things as collaboration, conflict resolution, decision-making, and negotiation are introduced. Learners discuss change management theories and evaluate the ethical, social, legal, economic, and political implications of practice change and health care informatics along with strategies for managing human, fiscal, and health care resources in a variety of organizational systems. Learners also examine the uses of patient-care, information systems, and communication technologies and discuss the design, implementation, and evaluation of electronic health record systems and clinical decision support systems.

Course Description

In this course learners examine the process of scientific inquiry, knowledge generation, utilization, and dissemination of evidence into advanced nursing practice in order to propose quality-improvement initiatives that advance the delivery of safe, high-quality care for patient populations. Learners critically evaluate evidence, including scientific findings from the biopsychosocial fields, epidemiology, biostatistics, genetics, and genomics, and apply levels of evidence and theoretical frameworks to design culturally appropriate clinical prevention interventions and population-based care that reduces risks, prevents disease, and promotes health and well-being. Learners also consider strategies to evaluate health policy and advocacy issues, the state of health care delivery, patient-centered care, and ethical principles related to health beliefs, health promotion, and risk reduction for diverse populations. Learners apply these strategies to work towards recognizing gaps in nursing and health care knowledge, identifying potential solutions or innovations for those gaps, planning and implementing practice changes, and evaluating the outcomes in order to improve practice. Prerequisites: NUR-513 and NUR-514.

Course Description

This course provides an opportunity for learners to complete their evidence-based practice (EBP) project proposal that addresses a problem, issue, or concern in their specialty area of professional practice. Learners previously identified a problem amenable to a research-based intervention, searched the literature, and proposed a solution. Now learners will explore implementation considerations and various evaluation methodologies, complete the project proposal by developing a plan to implement the solution into the intended practice area, and design an evaluation plan that will assess the EBP project proposal's intended outcome(s). Prerequisite: NUR-550.

Course Description

This course is an exploration of the behavioral forces and relationships that influence organizational effectiveness and change. It also emphasizes the study of intervention strategy and application skills related to a foundational understanding of the role of project management in the context of leading change in organizations. The course provides insights into the leadership and management of people, processes, and best practices for successful change.

Course Description

In this course, learners study principles of health care financial management and the role of fiscal responsibility within health care organizations. Along with an overview of operational budgets, learners delve into the key aspects of the economic drivers and financial requirements impacting organizations, including the financial demands and implications of specific health care delivery models, efficient staffing models, and the management of operational expenses. Learners examine the challenges of aligning key financial performance indicators with safety and quality measures as required in the evolving health care industry. Prerequisite: NUR-590.

Course Description

This course examines models of performance and quality improvement in health care. Learners differentiate measures of quality and learn to apply industry standard tools and process improvement methodology to enhance safety and positively impact patient outcomes and financial performance. Prerequisite: NUR-590.

Course Description

The effective strategic management of human capital is the differentiator of every successful organization. This course examines talent management, workforce diversity, succession planning, employee development and motivation, and performance matrix. This course addresses human resource competencies identified by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). Using the strong strategic human resource acumen provided by this course, students will be well-prepared for positions as senior human resources specialists or as general managers.

Course Description

This course provides learners the opportunity to integrate what they have learned in the program in a practicum experience related to nursing leadership. Learners are expected to integrate nursing knowledge and advanced critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in the development of a comprehensive project grounded in contemporary nursing leadership theory and practice. Learners develop projects based on their interests and practicum placement that can incorporate a range of leadership issues, such as quality and performance improvement, mentorship and coaching, interdisciplinary relationships and collaboration, and staff development. Practicum/field experience hours: 150. Prerequisite: Successful completion of all previous coursework in the program.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.